By Ilysse Rimalovski
At home in Maplewood, Beatrice Miller eases into the nook of her couch; poised, velvety-voiced, and sparkling. As in any other family with three kids, her moms Hilery Kipnis and Kim Miller juggle phone calls, Daisy the dog, dinner prep, and keeping up with twins, Esther and Georgia, who just spilled a cup of bugs on the floor.
Miller, a stage manager for CBS’s The Early Show, was encouraged by a colleague to submit the girls’ headshots. “So I brought them in and thought that would be the end of it.” The calls came right away.
Beatrice, affectionately called “Bea,” landed her first professional job at eight years old. Now 10, she has well-placed representation in New York and Los Angeles, four feature films under her belt (including the upcoming Toy Story 3) and numerous television and radio commercials and voice-overs. She also has prime time roles on Nickelodeon.
She even earned the honor of singing “America the Beautiful” at the U.S. Open, and already is entertaining record deals with some very big names. “I’m just a normal kid who happens to be an actress and a singer,” she says smiling.
While such success is a real-life fairytale, both Miller and Kipnis, a producer, have a working understanding of the entertainment business, how things function on a set and how to negotiate contracts. Beatrice has been around celebrities her entire life. (Early on, Gladys Knight referred to her as “the pipsqueak.”)
“Still, there is a huge learning curve when managing kids’ careers,” says Kipnis. “It’s challenging to keep Beatrice grounded in her community, to keep her life balanced and to keep school at the center.” This proves especially difficult when work last year required that Beatrice miss 50 days of school, and leave early on 50 other occasions.
With every phone call is the possibility of a trek into Manhattan for an audition, often at a moment’s notice. Luckily, her school is very cooperative, signing necessary work permits, managing homework and working with her set teacher to ensure that Beatrice is maintaining high academic standards. Her parents marvel at how she juggles it all while seeming to handle the physical and emotional stress.
Beatrice began speaking at six months old and having conversations at one year. While sitting in her car seat, she would use her fingers as characters and direct them. Today, Beatrice directs her sisters in fantasy plays. “I want to be a writer/director,” she says. “I make my sisters act in the stories I have in my head. I want them to come alive.”
So one has to ask the same questions Kipnis ponders: “How are we going to do this? What if she gets this part? This movie? It’s always in the back of my head.”
Already, Beatrice’s career is a big commitment of time, money and energy, requiring her membership in the Screen Actors’ Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. She also has an expanding team of agents, managers, lawyers, accountants, teachers and more. As for Beatrice, she considers herself just a regular kid. “I like being different, but not people treating me different.”
She dreams of being on Broadway. A transplant from Brooklyn at age four, Beatrice loves Maplewood because everyone is so nice, there are so many trees, and so many kids living within walking distance. A huge Obama fan, she has two fancy goldfish named Michele and Barack. She does not have a Facebook page, nor her own website.
“I keep telling myself that when I’m 14, I’m going to buy my family a new house with a farm in the back so that we can all have horses.” She herself has big plans to have one child and to adopt three, plus four dogs and three cats.
“I don’t think it’s fair that kids don’t get to be whatever they want to be,” she says with all seriousness. She hopes to donate a portion of her money to kids in need, inspired by watching American Idol Gives Back, which serves children in Africa.
If Beatrice finds a rare free day, she fantasizes about reading in bed for an hour, watching the latest movie, going on a roller coaster, having a sleepover, then heading to Disney World if there is still time.
“If these are her last roles, so be it,” Kipnis says. “If she doesn’t want to do it any more, okay. But if she does get known in music, acting or both, we’re trying to lay the groundwork for what lies ahead.” Ilysse Rimalovski is a journalist and certified life coach practicing in Maplewood, and wondering what road you’re on.
Film CreditsToy Story 3 (release date 2010)
Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
Teddy Grams (2008)
Beatrice’s Favorite Things
Music: Jonas Brothers
Actors: Dakota Fanning & Ashley Tisdale
Food: Pasta, nachos and green apples
Animals: Dogs and horses